Slavic names of the months in manuscripts of the Gazi Husrev-bey Library

  • Alena Ramić


Among the manuscripts in the Gazi Husrev-bey Library, whose cata-logue is in preparation, a special attention is given to works from the field of astrology and astronomy in Turkish language from the 16th , 17th and 18th century in which Slavic names for month have been used. It is important to mention that compilers of the Ottoman calendars paid special attention to the Slavic names of months, which they wrote always on the top, with red ink and made more visible compared with names in Arabic and other oriental languages. This distinctive characteristic of calendars in Turkish language originated in the medieval Bosnia is a phenomenon, which witness intermixing of Oriental and Slavic culture, and as such has a great importance for research in the field of Oriental and Slavic studies, etymology, ethnography, folklore etc. Unfortunately, among the sources which were accessible to us, we have found only works by Fehim Spaho, from the thirties of the last century, which deal with these issues. Spaho, in his work has drawn attention to the specificity of the Ottoman calendars analyzing orthographic characteristics of Slavic names written in Arabic script and their origins based on literature in Slavic languages. However, the frequency and outstanding usage of these names in Ottoman sources of the manuscript collection of the Gazi Husrev-bey Library, require anew attention.

In this work we have attempted to present different ways of writ- ing Slavic names of months in manuscripts whose big part consists of calendars, and then to give an explanation of link between their etymology and orthographic characteristics. Besides, it has been noticed that apart from usual details included in the calendars of this kind, outlined according to solar system of calculation of the time, here exist details related to natural and social events. Among them are folk belief and prediction linked to some extraordinary and supernatural accuracy which had direct link with specific months. This is especially case with works which according to their character are not calendars, but manuscripts which are named malhame and t’abir-i name, that is works containing astrological details of extraordinary events. In that sense, it is important to emphasize manuscript kept in the Bosniak Institute in Sarajevo (call number:MS 660), in which within the calendar chart have been given folk belief and predictions about extraordinary events according to list of months in particular year.

In this work, the author has given a translation and transcription of this chart whose content clearly talks about people’s attempt to link events in the nature and society with specific period of year, indicating a connection which exists between natural and social events and name of the months given by Slavic people.

All this proves that names of months, which are in use in different variants in Czech, Croat, Polish, Ukrainian languages were widely used in Bosnia in 16, 17 and 18 century. They represent indispensable element of Ottoman works from the field of astronomy and astrology in this time.

How to Cite
Ramić, A. (2005). Slavic names of the months in manuscripts of the Gazi Husrev-bey Library. Anali Gazi Husrev-Begove Biblioteke, 13(23-24), 155-170. Retrieved from